I bought my first Guitar in 1980 from the shop in Cowdenbeath, Andersons Pianos. It was run by an old couple and sold everything musical, not hip and trendy in any way.
Anyhoo, it was a second hand Kay, Les Paul copy. Paid for every week for about 6 months. I knew no better but it looked good. I didn’t have an amp but now I had a Guitar and me a Pepe were ready to go. Oh aye, and I had no idea how to tune or play the thing 😦 I was a punk and anyone could start a band 🙂
A year goes by and I am married and have a beautiful daughter and I buy an amp and a distortion pedal, from a catalogue, I sure it was Freeman’s. A 25 watt solid state affair, that I actually played for years. It wasn’t that bad and the distortion pedal made it sound brilliant. So me an Pepe go to Lochore Community Centre every Saturday to work out how to make a Guitar and a Bass make noise.
I had worked out some form of tuning that actually sounded like it was in tune (I was basically playing only power chords) and we battered out 3 chords and I wrote some words. Jump forward and we had met up with the Anarcho-Punk band Alternative from Dunfermline. This led us to rehearse every Saturday in the legendary Pad in Dunfermline. Even better their drummer Murph, offered to help by playing drums during our rehearsal. So we called ourselves “Victims of Violence” and off we go.
Now seeing and hearing the limitations of my Kay Guitar, I went into Thompsons Electrical in Dunfermline and sold my soul away and bought a Japanese Fender Squire, Stratocaster. This was 1982 and it cost £450, 10% deposit and a weekly payment book. It was a brilliant Guitar and came with a Fender hard case. As it so happens these Guitars were some of the best produced by Fender in the 80’s. (It was later destroyed when I did a Townsend on it, at a gig in Kirkcaldy when the band I was in were apparently too loud for the neighbours and the police came to shut us down.)
With this new axe in hand I decided I needed to play it properly. Pepe had bought a tuner and so I tuned the thing. Worked out some barr chords and we were off. Murph moved on from the Alternative, but Chips their new drummer offered his services. By this time Sned had re-appeared after his stint in the RAF. He had a Guitar and amp and knew some chords. So he was in. This all went well we even played a gig in Cowdenbeath, it was a miners benefit organised by Alternative during the 1984-85 strike. Chips as a Punk drummer couldn’t believe how slow some of songs were, as we were now writing songs that were not strictly Punk. Punk words but the music was developing.
Soon after the Pad was closed and we had to go back to Lochore for rehearsal. We then recruited Kevin Kinch who volunteered to play drums. Long story short, we rehearsed every week, or Sned and Kinchy got pissed (I couldn’t because I was the only one with a car) and battered out our own tunes.
This did result in one gig. Mikey Payne, who came and listened to us faithfully every week, got us on the bill of a punk gig on Newbury beach. Oi Poloi were on the same bill. It was in reality a disaster, Sned and Kinchy got pissed, we had to invade the stage to make sure we got a slot. Battered out our seven songs and left.
Soon after due to many inane and unrealistic reasons I sacked Pepe (there is a terrible theme developing) and we recruited a Bass player from Cowdenbeath, I can’t remember his name and we actually did a gig in Jamies in Dunfermline. It just so happened that Pepe was the manager. At this gig Rico sung a song with us. He joined the band and we actually recorded a demo in Edinburgh.
Long story short eventually Sned leaves. So it was me, Rico, Kinchy and this Bass player. The Bass player left, I think, and so we advertise for a Bass player.
Result one Gary Traynor responds. We pick him up and bring him to Lochore. After working out what songs we all know, we play My Generation. At the Bass solo part, Gary proceeds to play it note perfect. Rico is having palpitations and I just smiled. He was in.
So we start to teach him the tunes for the songs we have actually written, Gary introduces others and off we go. I was at the time, incapable of writing anything to be honest.
We actually recorded a Demo in Edinburgh 5 songs, and I hope they never surface 😉 Soon after it is time for Kinchy to go (I told you it was a recurring theme). We end up recruiting a very young drummer, Nicky Simpson from Lochgelly. He is absolutely brilliant. We gig and more importantly we record another demo. We were now called The Ultimate (pretentious twats). Nicky leaves and we have a drummer from Dunfermline for a few weeks but he was replaced by a Drummer from Burntisland and I had to pick him up and drop off every time. More gigs and more songs written.
We rehearsed and gigged for a long time. Drummer leaves and we then get Budgie, moving upstairs in the Goth for rehearsals. As things moved on me and Rico came to loggerheads and eventually I spat the dummy, sacked myself (see, recurring theme) took my PA speakers and told them where to stuff it. The bloody ungrateful buggers recruit another Guitarist and turn into Badge, playing covers. I hate to admit it but they were really bloody good 😦
Gear update, at this point in time I had an old Marshall 100Watt Super Lead head and a couple of 4 x 12 Cabinets. The Fender Guitar had been smashed at that gig and I had a ES335 Copy. Various pedals, same old distotion, Yamaha Echo, and a Cry Baby Wah Wah.
Anyhoo time marches on and a couple of years later Rico comes to see me and asks me to help out as they have a charity gig and the Guitarist has buggered off. Now I had not touched the Guitar for two years and had never wanted to play covers, but I eventually caved in and joined Badge. Gary had to show me all the chords for the songs they were doing and I just blagged my way through the solos. But it all worked and we were once again off. Me, Rico, Gary and Budgie. We gigged all over and had a ball 🙂 We actually did some brilliant gigs all over the place.
Gear update, I bought an Epiphone Super Strat type guitar as they were all the rage. I also sold all my pedals and bought one of the first floor multi FX pedals by Digitec. It was bloody brilliant. And still had the old Marshall head. But I did trade it in eventually for the amp I have now, a JCM 900 50 Watt 2 x 12 all valve combo.
In about 1992 I bought the Guitar I still have and play. A Starfield Altaire American Custom. It retailed at £999 (I payed £650). It is the best Guitar I have ever owned. It is priceless to me. I now also have a Fender Strat with with an upside down head and the bridge pick up sloping the wrong way.
About 1996/7 I bought a Yamaha 4 track cassette recorder and somehow worked out how to record and produce the songs we were doing through our PA and this recorder. We gigged we recorded but during this time Budgie left us 😦 We did get a good drummer from Dunfermline who is on about two thirds of the stuff we recorded.
I think our best moment though was the Meedies for the local Gala in 1995
So time moves on and I get a job in Worcester, so that’s it. The band ends. It was a great time, I have some brilliant memories and some lifelong friendships.
I did play in a couple of bands when I was in Worcester and did some gigs in Birmingham. But that all ended when I then moved to Northern Ireland. Whilst there I bought a Roland 8 track digital recorder and transferred and remastered all the old Badge recordings. I also bought a real American Les Paul Standard. (This was later sold to finance my last trip to Australia)
When I come back from Australia the second time, completely broke and homeless, I move back with my mum in Ballingry. I get in touch with Sned and come up with a cunning plan. I put it to him, we start a new band but without the trouble of having to find a Bass player and Drummer. We will use my 8 Track and play to backing tracks of Bass, Drums.
We meet upstairs in the Shank in Ballingry and try it out. It works. As I was not confident in my vocal abilities we look for a singer. Someone in the Shank suggests a young man Sinky and so we invite him to come down and try out for this new thing. He is brilliant and so we rehearse for bloody ages, my fault as I was not sure how this formatt would be accepted. We call ourselves Hardwired.
We do our first gig in the Shank on a Sunday afternoon and it is a triumph. Honestly. We learn more songs and do a few more gigs locally. Then the big time a gig in Dunfermline. On the way in Sinky gets in touch and basically he has bottled it and isn’t coming. We do the gig, I sing and all is well. The three of us this for a couple years and actually made some money, Pepe was sound engineer and did every gig with us. We did have a brilliant time. We also recorded about 15 songs on the 8 Track.
At the same time me and Sned joined a Punk band and do a couple of gigs in Dunfermline. But it all falls to pieces as all punk bands should.
Time moves on and eventually Hardwired are not even rehearsing, we just turn up for gigs and play. Don’t get me wrong, we were tight as fuck and put on a great show. But we were not learning new material. So eventually things and people move on and it all ends.
So after the demise of Hardwired and the Punk band me an Pepe end up rehearsing in Rosyth with Deek a brilliant Drummer from Dunfermline. Pepe had bought a Bass and we were just mucking about. I wrote 3 songs and we were working on them. We actually recorded them. Pepe might have copies, but I deleted them, as I tend to do with everything I don’t like.
So time moves on and towards the end of 2009, out of the blue Budgie gets in touch. He is trying to put together a covers band and has a Bass Player and Guitarist. He has just met a singer Alan and has organised a rehearsal, but his Guitarist has bailed. Would I come and help until he finds another Guitarist. Then he phones and says the Bass player has buggered off as well. I suggest Pepe and so we get organised for this rehearsal. I have told him that I am not interested in joining a covers band and I will help for a few weeks only, so he can keep the singer, but he must get a Guitarist soon.
We meet and start the whole process. It is a laugh and we actually start to sound like a band. One night Alan the singer is late so I start playing one of the songs I wrote. Pepe and Budgie join in. We try the other 2 and it starts to sound really good. The singer turns up and asks what we were playing and what band was it. Budgie then hits me with, why don’t we do our own stuff. This actually resonates with me and I am now very interested.
I insist that it will only happen if Sned joins as second Guitarist. So I get in touch with him and he informs me that he is already in a band. But I convince him to at least come and give it a try. He does, we gel and it is all systems go. The Other Side is born.
Very quickly, 3 months, we have 8 songs and I have booked us to play in The Ark in Edinburgh. It goes better than we could ever expect. So I book us to play for Eddie Coz in Kirkintilloch of all places. This was the first time we meet Ed, but it ended with us becoming very good friends and him putting us on the bill of a few other gigs he organised. Next stop Cosmopol Glasgow. We then are booked to play for the first time in McSorleys Glasgow. Me, Pepe, Budgie and Sned arrive. Alan phones and says he can’t make it. So I sing the songs and the gig is a smash. We are then booked for Cosmopol Clydebank. Again 4 of us turn up and the singer bales. This one was even being reviewed. So I sing and we go down great. I insist that Alan is now sacked and I will sing my own bloody songs from now on.
I actually go mental and book us everywhere. We were playing every week, in either Glasgow Edinburgh or Dundee. Not one gig in Fife yet. Some weeks we were playing 3 times and most it was twice. This was of course lunacy. Some were brilliant, but more often it was playing to less than 20 punters. We even drove to Cambridge and back in one day to play a Bikers Rally. (It was a fucking disaster) But I wouldn’t change a thing, because we did some really good gigs, that made up for the shit ones. During this time we met some brilliant bands and people, most of whom we are still in touch with now.
I then suggested recording ourselves on my 8 track. We set up and recorded a couple songs to see how they would turn out. Result no too bad. So the race was on to record everything we had at that time. The result first Album Catch the Sun. All recorded in Lochore Institute. It also resulted in the start of our songs being played on radio stations, internet, local and occasionally mainstream. Result.
More song writing and more gigs followed, not as many gigs as before, but still too many. Then I bought Cakewalk Sonar recording software and we were soon recording album 2, Don’t Piss Down My Back (and tell me it’s raining). This was a mistake as I had not mastered the software and it resulted in very poor production. I actually think the songs are very, very good, but let down by my poor production skills. You can download it for free from our website.
That said it did receive very good reviews and widespread radio play.
Some of our songs were getting longer as above and then we came up with this 16.5 minute epic 🙂
And the title track;
Politics was and always will be the foundation of the lyrics in my song writing, auld punks never die.
And so we then make a conscious decision to cut back on gigging. We agreed only to do gigs that were worth while, charity and gigs where we were given at least 45 minute set times. Maybe we could and should do a few more though.
The writing continued and very soon we had album 3 ready. This one was recorded and produced far better, as I was beginning to get to grips with the recording software. So Can You See it Coming was launched.
This album received brilliant reviews and loads of airplay all over. Happy days. Then we jumped in and started writing album number 4. We gigged a few times and still had a great time.
Album 4, The Final Straw, took ages, to finish as I became distracted with far to much politics and campaigns. It was a very busy time. The recording was actually completed very quickly. It took me an age to finally produce and master the album.
It turned out far better than I could have hoped. It has been played on the radio all over, including the full album played on a Canadian station.
It also includes the title track that is 19 minutes and 32 seconds long. Why did we record a song that length? Answer, because we could 🙂
So there you have it. A journey through my music.
The Other Side are currently working on album 5 and it is sounding bloody good. We only gig every now and then, when we can be bothered too, but we are still enjoying every moment.